Bride of Re-Animator Blu-ray Review

Jeffrey Combs returns to star in this follow-up to horror classic Re-Animator

Stuart Gordon’s cult horror classic Re-Animator was such a success that a sequel seemed inevitable. Bride of Re-Animator brings back the mad Dr. Herbert West, memorably played by Jeffrey Combs, and a heaping of creature effects in this slightly disappointing sequel that still has plenty to offer fans. Director Brian Yuzna (Society, Return of the Living Dead III) gives us the most bizarre love story possible as West attempts to build a Frankenstein-like woman from dead body parts for his associate, Dr. Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott).

Loosely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s short story Herbert West-Reanimator, the first Re-Animator movie ended with what has become known as the Miskatonic Massacre. The only human survivors from the incident are Herbert West and Dan Cain, doctors with an unhealthy interest in the science of re-animating dead tissue. Only a few months after the tragedy that cost Dan’s girlfriend Meg her life, West discovers a chemical agent that apparently revives dead tissue and brings it back to some semblance of life. This sequel carries over so much from Re-Animator that it doesn’t make much sense to watch on its own. It is a sequel made for fans of the original wanting to explore these characters once again.

Bride of Re-Animator wouldn’t be half as fun if not for Combs’ over-the-top portrayal.

Dr. West is more deranged than ever in his unhinged quest to create life from his discoveries, played with delicious abandon by Jeffrey Combs. Bride of Re-Animator wouldn’t be half as fun if not for Combs’ over-the-top portrayal. The actor was born to play a mad scientist.

Dr. West is hiding his experiments with dead tissue in a moldy basement right out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. West lures his friend Dan Cain into aiding the experiments with the promise of restoring Meg’s heart to life in the body of a new woman. Both doctors spend their days working at the Miskatonic Hospital, where Dan is caring for a terminally ill woman. It’s amazing the two doctors can even find normal work again after the crazy events depicted in Re-Animator. I guess background checks weren’t too demanding back in the day.

While Combs has his unhinged demeanor down pat, it’s more difficult seeing the suave Daniel Cain going down this path. Cain has already found a beautiful new girlfriend since Meg died and his interest in restoring Meg’s heart feels awkward. West is more believable in his quest, as he views its success as a huge scientific accomplishment. He understands no one in the medical community will accept his experiments with dead tissue, combining them together in strange chimeras like an eyeball attached to several fingers. West’s ultimate goal is the re-animation of a complete woman built with several body parts from different dead bodies.

An Arkham police officer begins investigating the doctors as West’s experiments with re-animating dead body parts kicks into high gear. Another doctor at the hospital has been collecting debris left over from the Miskatonic Massacre and comes across the head of Dr. Hill, the psychotic villain from Re-Animator that died in the gigantic explosion. Having found a small sample of the re-animating fluid, he brings Dr. Hill’s head back to life. If Bride of Re-Animator has one thing going for it, its special effects make-up and prosthetics are fantastic and creepy. Most of its best moments are seeing the strange combinations of dead body parts come to life.

Everything in the plot comes together in a crazy, madcap finale with all the characters in the same place. Filled with blood, guts and a litany of strange monsters, genre fans will eat it up. Re-Animator is a horror classic with a serious following. This is a sequel that brings back several key characters while expanding the story. While Bride of Re-Animator is not quite worthy of Re-Animator’s acclaim, it’s definitely worth seeing for one more adventure with Dr. Herbert West.

Bride of Re-Animator Blu-ray screen shot 12

Video

Bride of Re-Animator received completely new transfers for both its R-rated and uncut versions by a German firm in 2013 and 2014. The restoration looks good for the low-budget horror film, offering a crisp palette and improved clarity over prior editions.

The 2K film scans actually come from different sources, leading to minor differences. The R-rated cut comes from a 2nd generation intermediate positive source. The unrated cut has been sourced from a Deluxe composite master from an intact positive print. There are differences in color rendition and film density for the unrated material, which mostly amounts to a few extra or alternate shots that don’t significantly impact the movie’s narrative.

Arrow Video provides the same transfer seen in the German Blu-ray with a stronger, more transparent AVC video encode. Framed at a looser 1.78:1 aspect ratio approved by director Brian Yuzna, the new transfers offer a much better experience than older DVD versions. These are solid film prints with fine resolution, if a tad darkly colored for modern film. There is minimal damage and nicely saturated colors, especially magenta. The creepy make-up effects look detailed with excellent definition.

If you are a fan of these movies, Bride of Re-Animator looks better than ever in Arrow Video’s limited edition release and also happens to be the most complete release.

Audio

Both cuts employ a stereo mix in 2.0 PCM. There has been much consternation about the restored audio issues found on the German BD, which have mostly been addressed by Arrow Video with some subtle remastering and tinkering.

The uncut audio has been taken from its best extant source, a digital Betacam broadcast tape. This is certainly not reference quality audio but noise issues have been reduced to a minimum, making the stereo 2.0 PCM a very listenable affair. The dialogue is intelligible at all times and the score remains pleasant. I was expecting poor audio given some of the buzz about the German disc but these soundtracks are decent for low-budget horror fare.

Optional English SDH subtitles are provided in a white font.

Extras

This director-approved three-disc limited edition set is a real love letter to Re-Animator fans with classy packaging and a surplus of rare, wonderful special features. One word of warning, the set is only limited to 5000 units in North America and rumors indicate it’s already close to selling out before release. Get it soon or it will go up in price.

Beyond the wealth of rare test footage and behind-the-scenes material, the older commentaries included here are considered some of the funniest ones ever done. They are essential for fans.

We get the R-Rated cut on one Blu-ray and the unrated cut on a separate Blu-ray, along with the DVD version. The limited edition is the only version that will contain a perfect-bound booklet containing Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator, the 1992 comic prequel to Stuart Gordon’s original Re-Animator, reprinted in its entirety.

Digipak packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth

Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator – The official comic book prequel to the original Re-Animator

Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna – The director covers the film in a wide ranging new commentary made for this release.

Audio commentary with Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, special effects coordinator Thomas Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George – A fun, rollicking commentary from the height of the DVD era. An easy listen even if you do not have an interest in this movie.

Audio commentary with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott – Another relaxed, loose commentary where the stars discuss their memories and share funny anecdotes in a sprawling back-and-forth discussion.

Theatrical Trailer (01:53 in HD)

Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator (09:37 in HD) – A brand new featurette in which the director looks back at the making of this Re-Animator sequel.

Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator (14:39 in HD) – A brand new FX featurette with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler. The movie actually employed a number of different effect shops so it’s interesting to compare and contrast their approaches.

Getting Ahead in Horror (23:50 in SD) – An archival making-of featurette with footage from the set and coverage of critical scenes.

Meg is Re-Animated (08:04 in SD) – A deleted scene with behind-the-scenes footage.

Carnival Sequence (02:03 in SD) – The cast and crew discuss this excised sequence.

Behind-the-Scenes Reel (14:30 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray’s unrated cut. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

  • Caps-a-holic has the comparison up between this Arrow edition and the German Capelight release. Fairly minor differences on the unrated cuts, mostly attributable to different AVC compression encoding.

    http://www.caps-a-holic.com/c.php?d1=3804&d2=7854

    If you want all the swag with the limited edition Arrow set, including the R-rated cut, buy it right now. Reports are already swirling it’s getting difficult to find.

  • For those interested in the R-rated cut versus unrated version, here is a comparison:

    http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=5127433

  • It has come to my attention that the listed 2.0 stereo PCM audio is actually a dual mono 2.0 PCM soundtrack. This appears to be a mistake made by Arrow Video when they made the new audio transfer. The movie was made in stereo and prior home versions have been in stereo. Given the nature of low-budget independent films, it’s always hard to ascertain if a given mix was truly stereo in nature or merely a narrow soundstage.

    As of this moment, the limited edition is completely sold out. It’s not certain if Arrow Video will correct this error.

  • It has come to my attention that the listed 2.0 stereo PCM audio is actually a dual mono 2.0 PCM soundtrack. This appears to be a mistake made by Arrow Video when they made the new audio transfer. The movie was made in stereo and prior home versions have been in stereo. Given the nature of low-budget independent films, it’s always hard to ascertain if a given mix was truly stereo in nature or merely a narrow soundstage.

    As of this moment, the limited edition is completely sold out. It’s not certain if Arrow Video will correct this error.